When times get tough, a lot of small business owners focus their efforts on getting new customers. While that’s a good strategy — you should never stop marketing — it’s important to remember that acquiring a new customer is expensive. On the other hand, keeping those customers you already have may not cost so much. Make sure you aren’t alienating your current customers while trying to secure new ones.
Small business expert Neile King, vice president, Smart Online, says there are six proven actions any small business can take to ensure a customer stays a customer.
- Provide a Progress Report – Show your customer or client the work you’ve been doing and the results you’ve achieved. By giving him/her something s/he can read and react to, questions are answered and suspicions are erased. What’s more, the customer may realize s/he needs you to do additional work.
- Meet Face-to-Face – If most of your dealings are done over the phone, make a point of holding face-to-face meetings periodically. Meeting in person says you are interested in his/her business and it gives you an opportunity to literally see things that you can help address.
- Avoid Jargon – Every business has its own verbal shorthand. When speaking with a customer use terms s/he can readily understand. S/he feels more comfortable and sense you’re working with him/her as a team.
- Ask for Feedback – Never assume the customer is satisfied. Throughout the work process, ask how your customer feels about what you’re doing and show him/her by word and deed the comments are taken seriously.
- Tune your Offering – As proud as you may be about your product, remember it’s being made for the customer. Make certain you know exactly what s/he wants, when it’s needed and more. Avoid the kind of surprises that no one likes.
- Be Open to Change – For any number of reasons customers change processes, be it terms and conditions, purchase orders, accounts payable or just about anything. Customers know s/he is valued if you show a willingness to work with him/her as much as you want him/her to work with you.
What do you think? If you have other suggestions, please leave a comment.